MPs leave Conservative party, join Independent Group

Former Labour party MP Luciana Berger, arrives with MPs Chris Leslie, Angela Smith and Gavin Shuker to speak at a press conference in London

MPs leave Conservative party, join Independent Group

Three pro-EU Conservatives have resigned from Prime Minister Theresa May's party to join a new group in Parliament, further reducing her slim majority as Brexit breaks open deep divisions in both of the main parties.

Vocal Brexit critics Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen all signed a joint letter of resignation on Wednesday morning.

"Brexit has re-defined the Conservative Party - undoing all the efforts to modernize it", a letter to Theresa May said.

But, she added, she had always been a member of the pro-EU "one-nation" Tory faction and now the party was entirely run by the "awkward squad" of hard Brexiteers in the European Research Group.

They added: "The final straw for us has been this Government's disastrous handling of Brexit". Labour antisemitism still features heavily in reports on the new Commons grouping, but what really unites them is a strong opposition to Brexit and an advocacy of a fresh European Union referendum.

The leaders of the ERG, who have failed to topple May, say they would rather see a "no-deal Brexit" than preserve the relative compromise and closer ties that May seeks on rules and regulations. "If we don't try, we are surrendering our country and frankly we don't deserve the job that we have".

"We have had a whitewash report, we have had unprecedented actions of Jewish people feeling they have to demonstrate against the Labour Party in Parliament Square". Our politics needs urgent and radical reform and we are determined to play our part.

The party that founded the NHS, the welfare state, introduced equal pay for women, the minimum wage, established Sure Start, agreed the biggest investment into education in modern history, and much, much more, has been hijacked by bullies, keyboard warriors and extremists who have coalesced around Jeremy Corbyn in the hope that they can use the trusted Labour brand as a Trojan horse to win power.

Ms Allen has stood against the government during the recent Brexit votes and is a supporter of the People's Vote, which would give the public a further referendum.

"As local Conservative councillors we have in the past - and we will in the future - work with our MP for the benefit of our residents - as long as she continues as MP".

"I believe this to have been a foolish decision".

"I therefore encourage her to put this to the test and to trigger a by-election. They should now be given the opportunity to decide whether or not they want an Independent Group MP".

Umunna also hinted that more MPs, including from the Conservative party, could soon be resigning in order to join them. It will be most surprising if they are not joined by rebel Conservatives in the next two months, but possibly even in the next few days, and it is also likely more Labour MPs will join them - altogether taking their number closer to 20.

Luciana Berger, one of the seven MPs who defected, said Labor has become "institutionally anti-Semitic".

Asked by a caller why he stuck with Mr Corbyn, Mr Watson said: "I'm sticking with him because, as a Labour Party member for over 35 years, we are a broad movement with half a million members who democratically elected him twice".

The three blamed "Blukip" or a "purple Momentum" of hard-right "zealots" for trying to force out MPs on the Remain wing of the party through deselections.

"I hope Heidi enjoys her day in the limelight".

James Palmer, mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority blasted Mrs Allen's "foolish" decision to leave the Conservatives, saying there should be a by-election in South Cambridgeshire. They will be buoyed by fresh opinion polls showing a respectable initial level of support - 10 per cent, according to Sky Data, though this is nowhere near enough to prosper in a first-past-the-post voting system.

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